Thoughts and feelings of a young woman hitchhiking 10,000 km across Canada and the USA

I have been called many things. Crazy. Stupid. Brave. Adventurous. Trusting. But I‘d just like to be called human.

Every human is special, and among us are some I’d consider curious. For example, the ones who don’t turn down the volume, but scream at me. Or even better, the ones who ask if I like music, and turn it up so I wouldn’t be able to talk at all.

I accepted people who weren’t comfortable with me in the car, and dropped me in the rain in the middle of the night in a strange city, making sure I should think about traveling, and that I should work, instead, because I have to contribute to society.

The following day I’ve got the biggest smile on my face waiting for a ride as I just received a free almond milk latte and a bag full of the juiciest cherries.

I chose hitchhiking as my way of traveling because I am interested in people. I met florists, professors, yoga teachers, body shop owners, cops, people selling cheese, and I even get a ride with a speed skating Olympian. People didn’t always understand what I was talking about because not everybody speaks English. I would get my map and point where I’d like to be that night.

And do you want to talk about cars? It was challenging to find a place in between all these boxes, empty bottles and Tim Hortons cups. I don’t care about the mess, I don’t care about dirty trucker cabins with all the dust, I do care a little when any kind of dog is across me, dribbling on my lap. I gasp for fresh air in a car filled with cigarette smoke.

I worried about drivers creating chaos by stopping on the on-ramp in rush hour in Montréal, but I’d be quick, and jump in.

I am thankful for every coffee or water and fruit. I am grateful if they stopped for me to use the washroom and are still there, waiting for me when I’m done. I feel special when drivers want to take a picture of me because I am the first hitchhiker they’ve ever picked up.

I am dying a hundred deaths if the driver is speeding, changing lanes in Chicago. Staying alive can be exhausting. I’m nervous if somebody takes me on a detour, although I just made sure he’d stay on the highway. But my tummy tells me it’s going to be alright and it was — I ended up with three CDs with the greatest Polish Polka you could imagine. I get irritated when my driver doesn’t stop flashing his headlights to the car in front, and then both cars are stop – what is going on? Am I going to be sold?

Being on the road with the craziness happening is tough, and I try to have a short nap. Almost falling asleep with three old guys, I am suddenly awake more than ever because the driver wants to change with the passenger who only had his first driving lesson last weekend. He asks, “Guys, where is blinker?”

I just wanted to sleep.

I sometimes hate myself if locals talk me into taking a shortcut and leaving me in the middle of nowhere with no cars passing. Hopeless, I listen to my favorite song from my phone, and dance on the street. Thirty seconds later I’m in a car with a priest and his wife. They make fun of me, and ask if my mum knows what I’m doing.

I am used to the talks on hitchhiking people. Private car drivers try to convince me to not get into trucks, whereas truckers tell me to not get into private cars. “Are you crazy? Who the heck is hitchhiking? We don’t see girls like you hitchhiking, you better be careful.”

People don’t see hitchhikers often any more. They tell me that it was popular in the past. Why not make the past present again? Get back on the road. Place your trust in humankind and you will experience adventurous unimaginable stories.

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